Welcome to your Detroit Lions draft history lesson for the day, a course which will run separate Mondays and Wednesdays from April 1 until April 24. The professor, Dr. DeMara, is currently in. We're looking back at some of the most interesting Lions' drafts in modern time.
Your older children might not believe this factoid if you tell them, but once upon a time, the NFL draft had 12 rounds. The final such season of this was in 1992. Thankfully for the Lions, they had plenty of selections to burn because only three were a success.
Out of the team's 13 picks, the Lions only used seven. Despite the fact that the final four selections didn't exactly pan out, the first three would prove to be vital for the success of the team throughout the 90s and surprisingly, still reaping benefits as late as 2012.
When you think of fearsome Lions' defenders in recent memory, Robert Porcher certainly comes to mind. He was Detroit's first pick in 1992 (26th overall). The three-time Pro Bowler was a difference maker at defensive end, racking up 95.5 career sacks, 603 tackles and three all-pro selections. Porcher, since retirement, has been steady in the community as well as a business owner. All in all, he was a major asset.
With their next pick, the Lions selected Tracy Scroggins, an outside linebacker out of Tulsa. From 1992 until his retirement in 2001, Scroggins was a vital member of the Lions defense as well, carving out a nice 10 year career with 60.5 sacks and 330 tackles. If only the Lions could have found another contributor like this.
Finally, Detroit hit the biggest jackpot by selecting kicker Jason Hanson with their very next pick in the second round. Everyone knows Hanson's story. He's been the Lions' version of Lou Gehrig on turf, leading the team in scoring while holding plenty of NFL records, two Pro Bowl appearances. As of now, he's the number three scoring kicker in history while being football's oldest player. How's that for getting your money's worth?
Now, about those other four largely unsuccessful selections. Thomas McLemore never scored a touchdown and departed the Lions active roster by 1993 for Cleveland. He left football in 1995 after dressing for one game with the Indianapolis Colts. Tackle Larry Tharpe had a second stint in Detroit in 1997 after carving out a nice two year run in Arizona, but was out of football completely by 2000. Willie Clay factored in with eight interceptions in 1995, and had a nice run with New England but was finished by 2000. Finally, fullback Ed Tillison was gone after six games.
The first three picks, and to a lesser extent Clay, helped make 1992 a huge success. This was certainly a case of quality over quantity. Today's most important lessons? No matter how many picks a team stockpiles, the early ones always have to count.
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